Trump’s Approval Rating Is Worst In Gallup History


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Jan 24, 2017 at 12:06 PM ET

Congratulations to Donald Trump, who began his presidency of the United States with the lowest approval and highest disapproval ratings in Gallup polling history.

According to Gallup, which has been doing this since the beginning of the Eisenhower administration, Trump’s 45 percent approval rating was six percentage points lower than previous lows for Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush. The bright spot here is that Reagan ended up being a very popular president despite the public’s initial misgivings. Bush, on the other hand, was not re-elected to a second term. Barack Obama’s approval rating when he began his first term in 2009 was 68 percent, which tied as the highest approval rating with Dwight D. Eisenhower back in 1953. Gallup’s numbers are consistent with the dismal approval ratings Trump received in other polls. Then again, the fact that Trump is president at all shows that polls can’t always be relied upon.

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Where Trump’s unpopularity really showed was in the disapproval ratings, where he also earned 45 percent. That’s almost twice as high as George W. Bush’s 25 percent disapproval rating, which was the previous record holder. Obama’s disapproval rating, by contrast, was just 12 percent. The reason why Trump’s disapproval rating was so much higher (other than the fact that more of the people polled do not like him) than the others is that the percentage of people who had no opinion was 10 percent. The previous lowest percentage of no opinion responses was George W. Bush’s 18 percent. Reagan and George H.W. Bush, with their 51 percent approval ratings, had 36 and 43 percent no opinion ratings, suggesting that many respondents were taking a wait and see approach to their presidencies before expressing an opinion one way or the other.

“The lower percentage of Americans with no opinion of Trump could be attributable to changes in news coverage over the years, as well as the possibility that increased political polarization results in Americans answering more reflexively today based on their partisanship,” Gallup’s Lydia Saad wrote in a summary about the survey results. “Changes in survey methods, such as the shift from in-person to telephone surveys after Ronald Reagan, could also be a factor.”

Channels like Fox News and MSNBC whose coverage skews respectively towards the right and the left, as well as the ease with which voters can access and even restrict the news they consume to that which aligns with their political views underscore the trend of political polarization that has swept the country. Gallup also noted that Trump’s numbers seemed to trend downwards in the weekend following his inauguration, as millions of people around the world marched in protest of his presidency and in support of women, a gender he has freely and openly denigrated (and, allegedly, assaulted) before he became president. Trump and his administration also spent the weekend after he was inaugurated defending the turnout, sometimes using blatant lies to do so.

That said, Trump did enjoy a near-universal approval rating from people who identified as Republican, with 90 percent. Democrats were, predictably, much lower, at just 14 percent, and independents were 40 percent. He also found more support from older, white men who did not graduate from college. And Reagan and Bush may have started with comparatively low approval ratings, but both had a higher average over the course of their presidencies than what they started with. Room to grow!